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Classroom Assessment Techniques
Concept Mapping

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Michael Zeilik
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of New Mexico

Michael Zeilik
Mike Zeilik I took a faculty position at the University of New Mexico directly from graduate school at Harvard, where I had pioneered the use of the Personalized System of Instruction/Keller Plan in astronomy. I threw myself into the introductory astronomy course for novices at UNM and was shocked at the poor performance of the class as a whole. Lacking resources to implement PSI, I struggled to create a learning environment in a large class of mature students with diverse backgrounds. I kept improving the standard model and saw student evaluations of my teaching climb. But I was struck at the end of one semester on how little students grasped the big picture of astronomy and how common misconceptions resisted change. Searching for solutions, I hit upon concept maps, which became central to our course transformation, and a disciplinary-based research project on conceptual development of novice students. I now use concept maps in all facets of instruction and assessment, for all levels of courses. I am particularly fascinated that the process of concept mapping can reveal structure that I did not anticipate in my maps or in students' maps; it's a great aha! Moment!

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